Professor Stefaniak’s research focuses on piano culture and performance during the nineteenth century. He teaches courses on topics ranging from eighteenth-century opera to the twentieth-century culture of “classical music."
Alexander Stefaniak received his PhD from the Eastman School of Music in 2012 and joined the faculty of Washington University that year. His research explores how virtuoso instrumentalists developed performing and compositional strategies to embody (indeed, to capitalize upon) the aspirations articulated in nineteenth-century writings on musical aesthetics. Stefaniak’s publications have used the activities of Clara and Robert Schumann as windows onto the broader landscape of piano virtuosity, particularly within Austro-German contexts. His first book, Schumann’s Virtuosity, draws upon a wide range of methodologies—from archival research to music analysis—to explore Robert Schumann’s multifaceted critical and compositional engagement with virtuosity. He has recently published articles about Clara Schumann’s engagement with popular pianism, concepts of interiority, and beliefs about interpretation and the musical work. He is currently at work on a monograph about Clara Schumann’s ascendency as an authoritative performer of canonic repertoire, titled Becoming Clara Schumann: Performing Strategies and Aesthetics in the Culture of the Canonic Tradition. Stefaniak will complete this project as a Faculty Fellow at Washington University’s Center for the Humanities.